Why I Walk: Out of the Darkness.

I walk pretty much every morning.  I prefer to walk outside; early morning walks clear my head and help me get ready for the day.  Often while walking I will come up with a blog post idea.  I know walking is good for me health wise (even if it's not helping me that much taking off the pounds...but that's another story and another struggle).  But I usually stop walking in late autumn and don't return to a regular schedule until the spring.  It's a combination of things that prevent me from those early morning walks.  Cold is not my favorite thing to be.  When it's cold, things get icy.  In the autumn leaves fall and it gets slippery.  And my early morning walks are done in the dark.  In the spring and summer when I am out the door at 4:30ish, it's light or if it's not yet light, it will be as I return home.  As the year starts to come to an end, that's not the case anymore.  I don't want to be the lady who falls down and can't get up; particularly in the early morning.  As a result of the darkness, I move indoors to alternative walking.

However, this post is not about my early morning walks; it's about Out of Darkness Walks which support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention  My family and I walked yesterday in the gray, chilly rain.  When it comes to walking and supporting, cold and dark is NOT going to stop us.

I have been passionate about this cause since I learned about it 3 years ago.  That's when a local walk was started.  And for the past two years, the walk has been held on a beautiful sunny Sunday in October.  The weather didn't cooperate this year, but that didn't stop us or all the other annual walkers.  The AFSP's website says it best:  "Each year, suicide claims more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. Yet suicide prevention doesn't receive anywhere near the funding as other leading causes of death. It's up to Walkers like us to make a difference. Together we can change the conversation about mental health and put a stop to this tragic loss of life."

Is there a person out there whose life HASN'T been affected by suicide somehow?  In my life, I have lost friends and relations to suicide.  Is there someone out there who HASN'T thought at one point or another:  "It would be better if I were dead?"  Or, "I can't take it anymore; I just want to end it." There is NO SHAME in admitting it.  We ALL face so many challenges and stresses.  How can we not start to crumble?  How can we NOT feel despair at one point or another?  (And if you by chance are reading this and feel this way RIGHT NOW:  STOP!  Pick up your phone and call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  Or if that seems too daunting to you text TALK to 741741.  Do it for yourself because YOU ARE WORTH IT.  You matter so much more than what you might be feeling right this instant.)

I didn't want to walk yesterday afternoon.  The day being gray and then the downpours isn't definitely not conducive to a stroll around the park.  I'd have to wear rain gear and carry an umbrella.  I knew, despite my planning, I would get wet and cold.  There would be puddles and mud.  Staying home, cuddled up on the sofa and mindlessly watching tv was so much more enticing.  But I NEEDED to be there.

I needed to be there to support this cause, but I also needed to be there for ME.  I needed to be part of something that was bigger than just me.  I needed to see that crowd filling up the park pathway.  I needed to be reminded WHY this people were there.  That we ALL have been affected in one way or another and that by walking together we support one another. We remind one another that there are others who feel our pain and understand.  We need to be reminded that we CAN make a difference. Individually we CAN make a difference and as a group we are reminded we are part of something so much bigger. We are NOT alone.  We are NEVER alone.  

The people that walked in the rain yesterday afternoon were of different races.  They were of different faiths.  We were different in so many ways, but yet we are alike and UNITED.  We are a reminder that help is available.  That in the darkness, there IS a way out to the light.

(Side note:  I'd like to thank everyone that supported my family and our team this year.  We surpassed our goal yet again.  If anyone out there would like to donate to this worthwhile cause:  https://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=1910932.  Thank you all for your support.)


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